DOVER-FOXCROFT - Mayo Regional Hospital's Imaging Center for Women is completing installation of a new digital mammography system that produces precise electronic images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen, rather than on X-ray film.
The new system, manufactured by GE Healthcare in Wisconsin, represents an investment of $408,000 and is the largest single project included in Mayo Regional's 2009 capital equipment budget, which totals over $2.2 million overall.
"This is new and powerful technology for the detection and fight against breast cancer," said Mark Piccirillo, M.D., Mayo radiologist. "Digital systems allow us to offer our patients state-of-the-art mammograms that are faster and easier than ever before. It gives physicians extremely accurate images to use in diagnosis."
Mammograms are among the best early detection methods for breast cancer, yet 13 million U.S. women 40 years of age or older have never had a mammogram, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
There are many advantages to a digital system, according to Joann Lovell, Radiology Department director at Mayo. The images are clear and easy to read, and a larger field of view offers a better view of the breast, especially near the skin line, chest wall and in women with diverse breast tissue types. The digital image is ready to read within 10 seconds -- there is no longer a wait for films to be developed to be sure the images are usable. Digital mammograms take as little as half the time of film, Lovell said, and if a second opinion is needed, the image can be sent electronically to a consulting physician instantaneously.
Patient comfort is optimized with the new system because there are reduced times between exposures, so exams are faster and more efficient, with fewer retakes. A patient-friendly design, using ergonomic paddles, also makes operation easier for radiology technologists.
Lovell said studies show that digital mammography has a lower recall rate than film-screen imaging. The benefits of having significantly fewer false positive recalls includes lower cost, decreased patient anxiety and better overall patient care.
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